BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU EMPLOYEE USED YOUNG DAUGHTER TO MAKE FALSE CLAIM FOR DAMAGE
April 20, 2010:
Food and Drug Administration
Office of Criminal Investigations
United States Attorney’s Office Press Release
For Immediate Release
April 20, 2010
The United States Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington
KELSY MACOM, 36, of Buckley, Washington, was sentenced today to 30 days in jail, three months of home detention with electronic monitoring, and three years of supervised release for Tampering with a Consumer Product. MACOM claimed in April 2008, that her then 7-year-old daughter was injured by a piece of glass in a bottle of Dasani water – a Coca-Cola company product. MACOM demanded $3,000 from Coca-Cola to settle the matter. When she pleaded guilty on January 13, 2010, MACOM admitted she had made up the entire hoax. MACOM used her young daughter, and her employment at a consumer oriented agency, in hopes of getting a quick financial settlement. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton labeled the crime “despicable.”
According to records filed in the case, on April 15, 2008, MACOM first contacted the Coca-Cola company in Atlanta, Georgia, claiming that her 7-year-old daughter had been injured by a small shard of glass in a bottle of Dasani water.
MACOM used her home e-mail address on the initial contact, but later used the e-mail address and contact information for her employer – the Better Business Bureau. MACOM contacted Coca-Cola representatives on numerous occasions claiming that the back of her daughter’s throat had been cut and that she could not eat hard foods. MACOM claimed she had had to stay home from work to care for her daughter. A few days after her first complaint, MACOM e-mailed Coca-Cola asking for a monetary settlement. Coca-Cola sent MACOM a mailer asking her to forward the bottle and glass shard. When an insurance investigator contacted MACOM, she claimed that her daughter coughed up blood – a claim she had never made in contact with the company. MACOM also filed complaints about Coca-Cola with the State of Georgia Office of Consumer Affairs, and with the Better Business Bureau for Oakland, California, and Atlanta, Georgia. MACOM also contacted the California Food and Drug Administration claiming the same lot of bottled water had gone to California.
On May 29, 2008, MACOM was interviewed by agents from the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-CI). After agents confronted MACOM with the fact that she had filed a similar complaint against another product in 2007, MACOM admitted that she had made up the whole story. In the 2007 complaint, MACOM received $1500 after claiming her then 6-year-old daughter had cut her mouth on a glass shard in a chocolate bar.
In asking for prison time for the hoax, Assistant United States Attorney Susan Dohrmann noted that it was troubling that MACON used her employment with a consumer rights organization to further her efforts to get compensation. “Defendant has provided the United States Probation Office and the government with several supporting letters, some of which are from Defendant’s co-workers who describe her as professional, honest and fair. In this regard, it appears that some may not be fully aware of the false claims to Coca-Cola and the Better Business Bureau that were part of her scheme to obtain money from Coca-Cola, nor that she actually used her Better Business Bureau e-mail address and work phone number as contacts,” Ms. Dohrmann wrote in her sentencing memo.
The case was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigation (FDA-OCI).
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Susan B. Dohrmann.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov <mailto:Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov> .